In 2017, the Indians once again came out on top to win the division, but surprisingly, the Twins had a strong season and locked up the second Wildcard spot. The Royals hovered around .500 and gave it one last go-around with their core that won a World Series, but ended up missing the postseason for the second straight season. It was expected for the White Sox and Tigers to finish at the bottom of the division and that was exactly what happened.
This season we should expect much of the same with the Indians winning the division and the Twins fighting for a Wildcard spot. However, there should be some improvement by the White Sox with many of their young prospects contributing in 2018.
Kansas City Royals
Just three years ago, the Royals entered the 2015 season on a mission to win a World Series and they did just that. Fast-forward to 2018, the Royals aren’t expected to do much and the team looks a lot different. Their core is mostly gone besides Mike Moustakas, who was surprisingly brought back after having absolutely no market in the offseason. If Kansas City wants to make any noise, they must rely on him, Salvador Perez, and ace Danny Duffy.
The Tigers were one of the worst teams in baseball last season and it should be much of the same in 2018, if not worse. Late in August, Detroit traded away their ace in Justin Verlander and All-Star outfielder Justin Upton, leaving just Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and Michael Fulmer as the core of the team. It will not be surprising if at some point during the season, all three are traded. The Tigers are going to be starting from scratch very soon.
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox made a ton of moves last offseason, including trading long-time ace Chris Sale and outfielder Adam Eaton. They decided to go into a rebuild and we should start to see some of that young talent in 2018. Of course, the offense will be led once again by Jose Abreu, but we can’t forget their young third basemen Matt Davidson, outfielder Avisail Garcia, shortstop Tim Anderson, and second basemen Yoan Moncada. Also, we can’t forget about all their pitching talent as well. Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Carson Fulmer, and Carlos Rodon are all going to be part of the future. The White Sox might not be ready to contend this year, but they have the potential to be really good in a few years.
The 2018 offseason was perfect for a team such as the Twins. For some odd reason, the free agency market didn’t pick up at all and left bargain deals. The Twins who normally can’t sign players to huge deals took full advantage of these bargain deals. They brought in Fernando Rodney, Addison Reed, Jake Odorizzi, Lance Lynn, and Logan Morrison for basically nothing. They have a chance to improve on 2017, but the one blow will be Jorge Polanco being suspended for 80 games.
The Indians clinched the NL Central for the second straight year in 2017 and should again in 2018. They lost a key piece in Carlos Santana, but are still too good for it to impact them too much. The Indians have one of the best starting rotations and of course, one of the best bullpens with Cody Allen and Andrew Miller. Francisco Lindor will get another year under his belt and if Michael Brantley can stay healthy, he could be huge for the Tribe. Cleveland has high expectations and anything less than a World Series appearance should be considered a disappointing season.
AL Central Projected Division Standings
- Cleveland Indians (96-66)
- Minnesota Twins (85-77)
- Chicago White Sox (78-84)
- Kansas City Royals (74-88)
- Detroit Tigers (67-95)